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Jewish Child and Family Service holds successful Annual General Meeting – online

JCFS Executive Director Al Benarroch

By BERNIE BELLAN
In covering Annual General Meetings over the years I always try and find something different about which I can write – so that an article like this doesn’t end up being simply a repeat of previous years’ reports.

Of course, the fact that Jewish Child and Family Service, like the Jewish Foundation two weeks prior, held its AGM via Zoom (on June 24) is notable in itself. And, like the Jewish Foundation meeting, one must offer congratulations to the organizers of the meeting for how smoothly it ran (thanks in no small part to JCFS Executive Director Al Benarroch, who demonstrated quite a familiarity with technology during the course of the meeting).
Again, however, as was the case with the Jewish Foundation AGM, while the opportunity was presented to viewers to pose questions via the “chat” function that is available on Zoom, no questions were asked. For a wretched news reporter like me there is always the temptation to ask questions that have nothing to do with what is being covered during an Annual General Meeting, but are extremely relevant to the functioning of particular Jewish organizations – but, since those issues weren’t raised during the AGM – I kept my finger off the chat button.
Instead, I exchanged emails with Al Benarroch subsequent to the AGM. Al dealt with some issues that were not covered during the AGM in his email to me.

One of the issues that I raised in my email to Al was that, during the Jewish Foundation’s AGM, the subject that was of greatest interest to me was simply declared beyond the scope of that meeting by Foundation Board Chair Richard Yaffe, i.e., How much assistance have specific organizations received and are going to receive during the ongoing pandemic? (The Jewish Foundation has already disbursed $400,000 to Jewish organizations and will be disbursing $200,000 more sometime soon in the near future. According to Jewish Foundation Board Chair Richard Yaffe, however, we’ll have to wait until next year’s AGM to find out who got what. Now that’s what I call transparency!)
As for the Jewish Child and Family Service, heck, they’re also a well-run organization, – just like the Jewish Foundation, but there was no discussion of two issues hovering over JCFS that have been brought to the fore many times in the past.
While there wasn’t anything in the 2019-20 financial statement to raise any concerns during the JCFS’s AGM, there was also no reference at any time during the meeting to either the JCFS’s need for expanded office space, nor to the supposed plan developed years ago to build an addictions centre.
In the fall of 2019, for instance, this paper reported that JCFS had outgrown its existing office space and was desperately in need of new space.
Following is an excerpt from an interview I conducted with JCFS Executive Director Al Benarroch back in September 2019:
JP&N: … is there any news about where you might be going (to open another office)?
Benarroch: At our May general meeting we struck a task force that was asked to come back in a short period of time (by this September) with a plan. We’ve already looked at about half a dozen properties in and around about a 5-kilometre radius to the campus – in addition to having discussions with the Federation and the Asper Campus what can we do in this facility. And, are there any plans to expand the footprint of this campus if, in fact, the Federation’s strategic planning has said we have to grow services in many areas?
The strategic planning’s report talked about expanding services in education, in mental health, in support for seniors. If, in fact, we’re going to expand these services, where are they going to go.
…we’ve been looking for roughly 3,000 more square feet of space. We have a footprint right now of roughly 5,000 square feet for over 40 staff. We’ve given up a board room here. It’s been taken over by older adult service staff. We have a conference room which is adjacent to the board room; we’ve moved two staff in there.
Yesterday I gave up my office for the entire morning so that staff could interview clients.
We need to relieve the pressure we’re facing right now – yet alone plan for expanding and growing.
Whatever space we’d be looking at would be temporary. It’s now 22 years that we’ve been in this facility. The campus has taken over squash courts, it’s taken over a museum – internally, to accommodate the growth in services. Maybe it’s time now to look at growing outside this building, whether it’s on to the land – although apparently there are issues around digging on the land.

However, despite the issue of the JCFS’s need for more space, nary a word was mentioned about that during the AGM.
In his email to me following the AGM, Al Benarroch had this explanation why there was no mention of the lack of adequate space for JCFS: “This was not mentioned, as most of this was put on hold as a result of COVID-19, which has understandably taken priority. We shifted our focus to insuring that services are being provided to our most vulnerable. With staff working remotely and face-to-face & group programs being suspended at this time, space needs have not been a concern to service delivery at this time.
“Even in the face of the pandemic, we continue to work on our strategic planning goals, of which space needs remain a high priority. We will continue with this planning and resume more activity once the pandemic hopefully passes.”

As well, I’ve been writing for years about the supposed plan by JCFS to greatly expand addiction services. In 2015, when the National Council for Jewish Women announced that it was going to sell the building that housed the Gwen Secter Centre, the ostensible reason was to use the money to create a “Winnipeg Jewish Recovery and Resource Centre”. According to an article written by Myron Love back then, “The NCJW-supported residence, operated in conjunction with Winnipeg’s Jewish Child and Family Service, would provide a home environment with a Jewish atmosphere that would be open to both Jewish and non-Jewish residents with addiction issues.”
We haven’t heard much about that project either – although the National Council for Jewish Women did sell the building that houses the Gwen Secter Centre for $900,000.
Al Benarroch did however, offer this explanation for the lack of movement on building an addictions centre in his email: “I’m sure you can appreciate that non-profit organizations move at a slower pace and have to be much more accountable to donors and funders in planning these things, than would a project launched in the private sector.”But, my bringing up past plans shouldn’t get in the way of lauding the JCFS for another successful year (and the JCFS’s fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, just as the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was setting in.)
In recent issues I’ve written about how JCFS has responded so quickly to many of the needs that have developed within our community as a result of the pandemic, whether it be taking its counseling program online or offering food assistance to those in need, again working closely with the Gwen Secter Centre in coordinating the providing of shopping services to individuals who either can’t get out themselves or actual meals, as the case may be.

 

During the JCFS AGM, Al Benarroch referred to the manner in which JCFS has adapted to the reality of not being able to see clients in person, noting that “All staff transitioned to working from home. Food and pantry deliveries have ramped up.”
But even before the pandemic brought about such drastic changes in how we are all leading our lives, JCFS had been continuing to deal with growing demand for its many services.
Benarroch cited some figures to illustrate how vital a role JCFS has been playing in our community. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, JCFS:

• handled over 2500 cases involving 5700 individuals
• provided assistance to 77 immigrant families
• assisted an additional 50-60 Yazidi refugee families
• assisted over 500 frail seniors, including Holocaust survivors
• provided help for 150 clients with mental health or addiction issues
• provided counseling services for 200 individuals
• tended to the needs of 23 children in foster care
• helped another 200 individuals requiring financial assistance or food from the JCFS’s food pantry
• in cooperation with the Gwen Secter Centre, provided 150 Passover hampers
• provided seven inmates at Stony Mountain Penitentiary with kosher for Passover meals
Those were just some of the accomplishments Benarroch cited during his report.

In other news, outgoing JCFS President Sherry Lercher Davis reported that the JCFS’s endowment fund at the Jewish Foundation had grown by over $1 million in the fiscal year just passed – from $2 million to $3 million. As is the case with other Jewish organizations here, the Jewish Foundation has been encouraging them to create endowment funds that will provide a solid financial foundation for years to come.

In his Treasurer’s report, Al Shpeller noted that, once again, the JCFS operated in the black, with an excess of revenues over expenses of $28,447. It should be noted that the JCFS held a very successful “Community of Caring Gala” in 2018. During the 2019-20 fiscal year the proceeds from that gala were transferred to the Jewish Foundation, which is administering the JCFS endowment fund.

In one final piece of business, outgoing JCFS President Sherry Lercher Davis passed the gavel (figuratively, since everyone participating in the meeting was in their own home, save Al Benarroch, who was doing a masterful job coordinating the meeting from the JCFS offices) to incoming President Ari Hanson, who will now take on that role for a two-year term.

 

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David Matas delves into the UN’s history of being controlled by authoritarian states and its anti-Israel bent

By BERNIE BELLAN David Matas, expert on human rights and counsel to B’nai Brith Canada, spoke at the Gwen Secter Centre on Thursday, July 11, to 25 members of the Remis speaker series group.
In his talk, Matas focused on the question how the rise of authoritarianism throughout the world in recent years, especially in such countries as China and Russia, also countries in Africa and Asia, is affecting the United Nations.
Matas also gave a comprehensive history how UNWRA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) came into being, how its existence has served as an impediment to Palestinians becoming self-sufficient, and how it has served the interests of Hamas.
He also delved into the histories of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and the UN Human Rights Council – both of which have a legacy of being anti-Israel.
I videoed Matas’s presentation. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoidOBNM8Ig
Apologies for the way the video first appears – where the image is sideways. (After a few seconds of recording Matas’s speech, I realized I needed to change the orientation of my camera to get a better result.)

Also, following Matas’s remarks, he agreed to answer a question about the story that was just in the news on Thursday about the forced resignation of Dr. Matthew Bzura as president of the Professional Association of Residents and Interns of Manitoba (PARIM). Matas agreed to go on the record with a response. He wanted to make it clear though that anything he had to say at this point was not being said on behalf of B’nai Brith Canada; rather, it was his own personal opinion.
Matas suggested that Bruza should have been told of the concerns that the board of PARIM had about his social media post in which he criticized Dr. Gem Newman. He (Bruza) should have been “given an opportunity to respond and then the decision made after that, but that didn’t happen. The people who were making the decision (to ask Dr. Bruza to resign) made the decision before (they voiced) any expression of concern (to Bruza).”
Matas went on to say that, “in substance there was nothing wrong with what he (Dr. Bruza) had to say about Newman.”
“The remark he (Dr. Bruza) made, as far as I can tell, was not made on behalf of the association. This organization has a policy that they will not take a stand on geopolitical issues, but Bruza said, quite rightly I would say, that this was not just a geopolitical issue, this was Newman basically criticizing his (Bruza’s) and other associations for not agreeing with what Newman said. So, it wasn’t just a comment on a geopolitical issue, it was a reaction to something said that affected the organization with which he (Bruza) was involved.”

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Local News

Palestinian campus encampments dismantled across Canada—whether voluntarily or by authorities

"I have waited 69 days to post this picture." — Michael A. Sachs of JNF Pacific at the University of British Columbia's Point Grey campus, where a pro-Palestinian encampment was situated.

By SAM MARGOLIS (CJN) Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.
“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.

“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

“Every dollar you make off the blood of Palestinians will be lost as we continue to confront you, on this lawn and across campus this coming year, and the year after that, and every year until the complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” protesters from Occupy Tabaret said on a post on Instagram.
An encampment at University of Waterloo was dismantled on July 7, in exchange for the university dropping a $1.5-million lawsuit and injunction proceedings.
A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of British Columbia, which had maintained an inescapable presence at the Vancouver campus since the end of April, was voluntarily dismantled on the evening of July 7—and local Jewish groups are hoping this will provide a step towards easing fears among Jewish students and the community as a whole.

Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.

“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

“Every dollar you make off the blood of Palestinians will be lost as we continue to confront you, on this lawn and across campus this coming year, and the year after that, and every year until the complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” protesters from Occupy Tabaret said on a post on Instagram.
An encampment at University of Waterloo was dismantled on July 7, in exchange for the university dropping a $1.5-million lawsuit and injunction proceedings.

A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of British Columbia, which had maintained an inescapable presence at the Vancouver campus since the end of April, was voluntarily dismantled on the evening of July 7—and local Jewish groups are hoping this will provide a step towards easing fears among Jewish students and the community as a whole.

The closure of the UBC Vancouver encampment took place a week after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the University of Toronto an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment from its campus.  The court ordered tents to be removed and gave police authority to arrest anyone who did not vacate the protest site.
“In our society, we have decided that the owner of property generally gets to decide what happens on the property,” Justice Markus Koehnen wrote in the July 2 ruling.
“If the protesters can take that power for themselves by seizing Front Campus, there is nothing to stop a stronger group from coming and taking the space over from the current protesters. That leads to chaos. Society needs an orderly way of addressing competing demands on space. The system we have agreed to is that the owner gets to decide how to use the space.”
Students at UofT voluntarily dismantled the encampment, which had numbered over 150 tents at some points, before the injunction deadline.
In Vancouver, Michael Sachs, the executive director of the Jewish National Fund Pacific, told The CJN, “There is a sense of relief that this is over, but also a sense of frustration with the amount of damage this has done, both to the Jewish community on campus and to the campus itself,”
Sachs went to UBC early Monday morning and took a photo of himself before the emptied encampment that he later posted on social media.

Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.

“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

“Every dollar you make off the blood of Palestinians will be lost as we continue to confront you, on this lawn and across campus this coming year, and the year after that, and every year until the complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” protesters from Occupy Tabaret said on a post on Instagram.
An encampment at University of Waterloo was dismantled on July 7, in exchange for the university dropping a $1.5-million lawsuit and injunction proceedings.

A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of British Columbia, which had maintained an inescapable presence at the Vancouver campus since the end of April, was voluntarily dismantled on the evening of July 7—and local Jewish groups are hoping this will provide a step towards easing fears among Jewish students and the community as a whole.

The closure of the UBC Vancouver encampment took place a week after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the University of Toronto an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment from its campus.  The court ordered tents to be removed and gave police authority to arrest anyone who did not vacate the protest site.
“In our society, we have decided that the owner of property generally gets to decide what happens on the property,” Justice Markus Koehnen wrote in the July 2 ruling.
“If the protesters can take that power for themselves by seizing Front Campus, there is nothing to stop a stronger group from coming and taking the space over from the current protesters. That leads to chaos. Society needs an orderly way of addressing competing demands on space. The system we have agreed to is that the owner gets to decide how to use the space.”
Students at UofT voluntarily dismantled the encampment, which had numbered over 150 tents at some points, before the injunction deadline.
In Vancouver, Michael Sachs, the executive director of the Jewish National Fund Pacific, told The CJN, “There is a sense of relief that this is over, but also a sense of frustration with the amount of damage this has done, both to the Jewish community on campus and to the campus itself,”
Sachs went to UBC early Monday morning and took a photo of himself before the emptied encampment that he later posted on social media.

“Once the encampment was no longer in the news cycle, it was taken down.  Some questions now are, who is going to pay for the damage done?  And how much is it all going to cost after they destroyed the field?”
At various points during the 69-day encampment, dozens of tents and hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters took part in the event, which occupied MacInnes Field at the school’s Vancouver campus. Some local media outlets described the atmosphere as resembling a festival. In ordinary times, the field is a campus hub and green space used by the university’s community for numerous recreational activities. Today it remains fenced and barricaded. 
Sachs had made regular trips to the perimeter of the protest since it began over 10 weeks ago. On its first day, according to his account, he witnessed Charlotte Kates, the coordinator of Samidoun, helping to organize and orchestrate the encampment.

Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.

“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

“Every dollar you make off the blood of Palestinians will be lost as we continue to confront you, on this lawn and across campus this coming year, and the year after that, and every year until the complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” protesters from Occupy Tabaret said on a post on Instagram.
An encampment at University of Waterloo was dismantled on July 7, in exchange for the university dropping a $1.5-million lawsuit and injunction proceedings.

A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of British Columbia, which had maintained an inescapable presence at the Vancouver campus since the end of April, was voluntarily dismantled on the evening of July 7—and local Jewish groups are hoping this will provide a step towards easing fears among Jewish students and the community as a whole.

The closure of the UBC Vancouver encampment took place a week after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the University of Toronto an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment from its campus.  The court ordered tents to be removed and gave police authority to arrest anyone who did not vacate the protest site.
“In our society, we have decided that the owner of property generally gets to decide what happens on the property,” Justice Markus Koehnen wrote in the July 2 ruling.
“If the protesters can take that power for themselves by seizing Front Campus, there is nothing to stop a stronger group from coming and taking the space over from the current protesters. That leads to chaos. Society needs an orderly way of addressing competing demands on space. The system we have agreed to is that the owner gets to decide how to use the space.”
Students at UofT voluntarily dismantled the encampment, which had numbered over 150 tents at some points, before the injunction deadline.
In Vancouver, Michael Sachs, the executive director of the Jewish National Fund Pacific, told The CJN, “There is a sense of relief that this is over, but also a sense of frustration with the amount of damage this has done, both to the Jewish community on campus and to the campus itself,”
Sachs went to UBC early Monday morning and took a photo of himself before the emptied encampment that he later posted on social media.

“Once the encampment was no longer in the news cycle, it was taken down.  Some questions now are, who is going to pay for the damage done?  And how much is it all going to cost after they destroyed the field?”
At various points during the 69-day encampment, dozens of tents and hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters took part in the event, which occupied MacInnes Field at the school’s Vancouver campus. Some local media outlets described the atmosphere as resembling a festival. In ordinary times, the field is a campus hub and green space used by the university’s community for numerous recreational activities. Today it remains fenced and barricaded. 
Sachs had made regular trips to the perimeter of the protest since it began over 10 weeks ago. On its first day, according to his account, he witnessed Charlotte Kates, the coordinator of Samidoun, helping to organize and orchestrate the encampment.

The Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has long called for Samidoun to be added to Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. CIJA and others maintain that the Vancouver-based organization has direct ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which, since 2003, has been listed as a terrorist group under Canada’s Criminal Code.
On May 1, Vancouver police started a hate crime investigation after comments Kates made at a rally praising the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and referring to a number of terrorist groups as heroes.
Sachs also noted that UBC is located in the riding of British Columbia Premier David Eby. He believes that Eby, as well as the university, could have done more to end the encampment sooner and help assuage the emotional distress it has caused for Jewish students, staff and faculty.
Nico Slobinsky, CIJA’s vice-president of the Pacific Region, said he was encouraged to see the encampment abandoned and the return of MacInnes Field for all students to enjoy safely.
“Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks committed by Hamas, Jewish communities have come under increased pressure in many spaces across Canada and around the world, including in post-secondary education. The UBC encampment was concerning and made many Jewish students feel unsafe on their own campus,” he said.
Ohad Gavrieli, the incoming executive director of Hillel BC, sent a note to the Jewish community on campus this week stating that the encampment, had been, since it started on April 29, a “troubling center of antisemitism and anti-Israel activities.” He expressed concern that “such a demonstration of hate and intimidation was allowed to persist at the heart of UBC.”
“As we look ahead to the fall semester in September, we hope that the lessons learned from this troubling episode will lead to a campus environment where Jewish students can feel safe and respected,” Gavrieli wrote.
The university, at this time, offered no response regarding any possible legal actions that may be pursued against the organizers of the encampment.  Further, it is unclear when the field will be returned to its earlier condition and how much it will cost to repair it.
Clare Hamilton-Eddy, the director of media relations at UBC, did tell The CJN that the school “remains committed to respectful dialogue with student protesters.”
A group calling itself the People’s University of Gaza UBC, which, among its other demands, has called on UBC to divest from Israel, vowed that it would continue to protest.

Several encampments which have occupied Canadian universities since April have been dismantled, a week after an Ontario Supreme Court granted the University of Toronto an injunction to remove a pro-Palestinian tent protest from its downtown campus.
At McGill, the Montreal campus was closed for the day from the early hours of June 10 while police and a private security firm removed protesters.

“McGill will always support the right to free expression and assembly, within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe. However, recent events go far beyond peaceful protest, and have inhibited the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the University’s mission and to our sense of community,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a news release.
“People linked to the camp have harassed our community members, engaged in antisemitic intimidation, damaged and destroyed McGill property, forcefully occupied a building, clashed with police, and committed acts of assault,” he said.
In Ottawa, protesters voluntarily removed their tents from the campus July 10, claiming that negotiations with the university administration had stalled.   

“Every dollar you make off the blood of Palestinians will be lost as we continue to confront you, on this lawn and across campus this coming year, and the year after that, and every year until the complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” protesters from Occupy Tabaret said on a post on Instagram.
An encampment at University of Waterloo was dismantled on July 7, in exchange for the university dropping a $1.5-million lawsuit and injunction proceedings.

A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of British Columbia, which had maintained an inescapable presence at the Vancouver campus since the end of April, was voluntarily dismantled on the evening of July 7—and local Jewish groups are hoping this will provide a step towards easing fears among Jewish students and the community as a whole.

The closure of the UBC Vancouver encampment took place a week after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the University of Toronto an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment from its campus.  The court ordered tents to be removed and gave police authority to arrest anyone who did not vacate the protest site.
“In our society, we have decided that the owner of property generally gets to decide what happens on the property,” Justice Markus Koehnen wrote in the July 2 ruling.
“If the protesters can take that power for themselves by seizing Front Campus, there is nothing to stop a stronger group from coming and taking the space over from the current protesters. That leads to chaos. Society needs an orderly way of addressing competing demands on space. The system we have agreed to is that the owner gets to decide how to use the space.”
Students at UofT voluntarily dismantled the encampment, which had numbered over 150 tents at some points, before the injunction deadline.
In Vancouver, Michael Sachs, the executive director of the Jewish National Fund Pacific, told The CJN, “There is a sense of relief that this is over, but also a sense of frustration with the amount of damage this has done, both to the Jewish community on campus and to the campus itself,”
Sachs went to UBC early Monday morning and took a photo of himself before the emptied encampment that he later posted on social media.

“Once the encampment was no longer in the news cycle, it was taken down.  Some questions now are, who is going to pay for the damage done?  And how much is it all going to cost after they destroyed the field?”
At various points during the 69-day encampment, dozens of tents and hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters took part in the event, which occupied MacInnes Field at the school’s Vancouver campus. Some local media outlets described the atmosphere as resembling a festival. In ordinary times, the field is a campus hub and green space used by the university’s community for numerous recreational activities. Today it remains fenced and barricaded. 
Sachs had made regular trips to the perimeter of the protest since it began over 10 weeks ago. On its first day, according to his account, he witnessed Charlotte Kates, the coordinator of Samidoun, helping to organize and orchestrate the encampment.

The Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has long called for Samidoun to be added to Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. CIJA and others maintain that the Vancouver-based organization has direct ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which, since 2003, has been listed as a terrorist group under Canada’s Criminal Code.
On May 1, Vancouver police started a hate crime investigation after comments Kates made at a rally praising the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and referring to a number of terrorist groups as heroes.
Sachs also noted that UBC is located in the riding of British Columbia Premier David Eby. He believes that Eby, as well as the university, could have done more to end the encampment sooner and help assuage the emotional distress it has caused for Jewish students, staff and faculty.
Nico Slobinsky, CIJA’s vice-president of the Pacific Region, said he was encouraged to see the encampment abandoned and the return of MacInnes Field for all students to enjoy safely.
“Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks committed by Hamas, Jewish communities have come under increased pressure in many spaces across Canada and around the world, including in post-secondary education. The UBC encampment was concerning and made many Jewish students feel unsafe on their own campus,” he said.
Ohad Gavrieli, the incoming executive director of Hillel BC, sent a note to the Jewish community on campus this week stating that the encampment, had been, since it started on April 29, a “troubling center of antisemitism and anti-Israel activities.” He expressed concern that “such a demonstration of hate and intimidation was allowed to persist at the heart of UBC.”
“As we look ahead to the fall semester in September, we hope that the lessons learned from this troubling episode will lead to a campus environment where Jewish students can feel safe and respected,” Gavrieli wrote.
The university, at this time, offered no response regarding any possible legal actions that may be pursued against the organizers of the encampment.  Further, it is unclear when the field will be returned to its earlier condition and how much it will cost to repair it.
Clare Hamilton-Eddy, the director of media relations at UBC, did tell The CJN that the school “remains committed to respectful dialogue with student protesters.”
A group calling itself the People’s University of Gaza UBC, which, among its other demands, has called on UBC to divest from Israel, vowed that it would continue to protest.

In a statement released on social media, the group said, “After years of divestment organizing on campus, we build the People’s University of Gaza as one tactic of escalation. We call on you to join us as we advance into the next stage of our strategy for our demands.”
Encampments have been prevalent on prominent university campuses in BC for the past several weeks. Protesters started a camp on the University of Victoria campus on May 1 and, according to university officials, the size of the encampment has not diminished.
“The university continues to take a calm and thoughtful approach and remains hopeful for a peaceful resolution.” said Kristi Simpson, vice-president of finance and operations at UVic.
Meanwhile, at the Vancouver Island University campus in Nanaimo, protesters continue to disrupt activities on the campus. On June 28, a group of 25 protesters occupied a building, interrupting an ongoing exam, blockading several entry doors, and causing damage to flags in the school’s International Centre. Over the June 29-30 weekend, protesters vandalized the entry to VIU’s human resources office.
“Such actions, which violate university policies, jeopardize the safety and security of our staff, infringe upon private and secure areas, and cannot be tolerated. We firmly condemn the disruption of academic exams, as our primary mission is to provide an optimal learning experience for our students,” officials from VIU said in a July 3 statement.
An encampment at UBC’s campus in Kelowna ended on June 29.

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Jewish Cemeteries Vandalized in Cincinnati, Montreal

Vandals in Canada targeted a Jewish cemetery. Photo: Screenshot

Vandals have targeted notable Jewish cemeteries in Cincinnati, Ohio and Montreal, Canada, sparking outcry and concern over mounting threats of antisemitism.

Vandals at Montreal’s Kehal Yisrael Cemetery placed memorial stones in the shape of a Nazi swastika on top of tombstones. Ones with the last names Eichler and Herman were targeted in the antisemitic attack. 

Placing memorial stones on graves is an ancient Jewish custom to memorialize the dead. Jewish cemeteries oftentimes have stones nearby tombstones for mourners.

Canadian leaders decried the vandalism.

“It is absolutely abhorrent and revolting to defile the dead with swastikas,” Jeremy Levi, the Jewish mayor of a Jewish-majority suburb of Montreal, commented on X/Twitter. “This desecration at the Kehal Israel cemetery in Montreal is beyond contempt. [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, step aside and get out of the way so we can reclaim our country. May this Kohen’s neshama have an Aliyah on high.” One of the tombstones vandalized belonged to a Kohen.

The leader of the Conservative Party in Canada’s parliament and candidate for prime minister, Pierre Poilievre, lambasted Trudeau and denounced antisemitism. “We cannot close our eyes to the disgusting acts of antisemitism that are happening in our country everyday,” he posted on X/Twitter. “The prime minister must finally act to stop these displays of antisemitism. If he won’t, a common sense Conservative government will.”

Canada, like many countries around the world, has experienced a surge in antisemitic incidents since the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Meanwhile in Cincinnati, vandals targeted two historic Jewish cemeteries this past week, toppling and shattering ancient tombstones — some dating back to the 1800s. 

According to a statement from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, 176 gravesites in Cincinnati’s West Side were ruined “in an act of antisemitic vandalism.”

“Due to the extensive damage and the historical nature of many of the gravestones, we have not yet been able to identify all the families affected by this act,” the statement continued. “Our community [is] heartbroken.”

The Cincinnati Police Department and the FBI are investigating the incidents.

The destruction of monuments is the latest in a greater trend of antisemitic vandalism. In an incident over the weekend, vandals in Australia targeted war memorials dedicated to Australian veterans who sacrificed their lives in Korea and Vietnam with pro-Hamas graffiti.

A couple weeks earlier, vandals in Belgium defaced two memorials for Holocaust victims with swastikas and a phrase calling for violence against Israel. In Germany, meanwhile, at least seven stolpersteine, or stumbling blocks in the sidewalk meant to mark Jewish homes seized by the Nazis, were defaced with the message “Jews are perpetrators.”

The US, Canada, Europe, and Australia have all experienced an explosion of antisemitic incidents in the wake of the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, and amid the ensuing war in Gaza. In many countries, anti-Jewish hate crimes have spiked to record levels.

According to the B’nai Brith, antisemitic incidents in Canada more than doubled in 2023 compared to the prior year.

The post Jewish Cemeteries Vandalized in Cincinnati, Montreal first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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